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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

"Disappointed" is the weasel's weasel word

When FT columnist Lucy Kellaway was less than respectful about some airy fairy remarks made by Hewlett Packard boss Meg Whitman at Davos, a wise head of marketing and communications would have told his boss to just suck it up as the price you pay for speaking in public.

Instead he did the single most disastrous thing you can do, which is pen a formal letter saying how "disappointed" the company was with Kellaway's column. Of all the weasel words in the contemporary lexicon of passive-aggressiveness, where the objective is always to cast yourself in the role of the victim, "disappointed" is the one I loathe the most.

And now the story is about him, which is never a good look. He's now made his boss look like somebody who can't fight her own battles. He looks like somebody who runs round trying to anticipate her wishes by kicking the nearest arse available. And he's made this publicly-quoted company look as if they make marketing and advertising decisions based on what side of bed they happen to have got out in the morning.

Nice "communications" work.